Coparenting is the act of parenting children together. Good coparents make decisions together with any eye toward what is best for their children rather than what is best for one parent or the other. Good coparents respect the other parent’s role in the lives of their children.
I love hearing good coparenting stories from my clients such as when they take their children shopping to buy a gift for the other parent’s birthday. They trade weekends when one parent has a family wedding and they support one another’s punishments when their child breaks the rules. As a child of divorce, I loved it when my own parents coparented well, even after I was grown. No one will love your good coparenting more than your children.
While some parents aspire to be good coparents, it does not always happen naturally.
Some parents cannot ever coparent well. They do not want to. However, some couples simply lack the tools to do it well without assistance despite the desire to work together. That is where coparenting counseling comes in.
An effective coparenting counselor can work with the parents on their dialogue so that they can improve their listening skills and learn not to speak past the other. This facilitates the parents actually hearing the other parent’s point of view.
Coparenting counseling is not a forum to work out your anger and hurt toward the other parent about how the relationship ended. If you or the other parent cannot get past an affair, abuse or just the idea that the relationship ended, individual counseling may be needed either as a precondition or concurrently.
Sometimes, it is the coparenting counselor that makes the call after a few sessions that the counseling should be suspended until one or both parents receive individual counseling or other psychiatric treatment. Other times, the coparenting counseling may be the only means of communication between the parties and, even if it is not overly effective in helping tackle big issues, smaller issues can be addressed. For a couple that cannot agree on the color of the sky or the time of day, figuring out their children’s camp schedule or how telephone calls will work is huge.
It should be no surprise that effective coparents have lower legal bills because they can work out issues short of the courthouse. Like the dance, however, coparenting counseling take two to tango.
Stay tuned for more coparenting information and tips in future posts. In the meantime, if you want to discuss your options, here is how to get started.